Do you ever stop and think that the next step you take might be your last?
In the film Mine, we find Mike, played by Armie Hammer, and his friend, Tommy, as soldiers on an assassination mission in North Africa. When their mission goes awry, the two soldiers find themselves running away from the enemy, eventually coming across a land mine field. While Mike uses caution upon walking across the field, Tommy walks aimlessly and ends up detonating one, blowing his legs off. Mike also steps on and triggers a mine, but manages to keep his foot on it so that it won’t explode.
After a distraught Tommy commits suicide by gunshot, Mike is left alone with his foot resting on the mine. Mike is able to put in a distress call with his radio, but a broken GPS leaves him unable to give his proper coordinates to his rescue squadron. Even with an approximation of his location, help won’t be able to get Mike for three days due to sandstorms. With his foot still on the mine, Mike has to endure sandstorms, exposure, ferocious desert dogs, and, most grueling of all, self-reflection.
Although Dennis Rodman made getting off a triggered mine look easy in Double Team, this is not an action movie, and Mike’s situation is handled more realistically. The story of Mine is in the same vein as All is Lost and Life of Pi, in that we follow a protagonist who is stuck in an inescapable situation and must use his/her ingenuity to survive. Unlike those films, however, Mike is closer to civilization, and is routinely visited by a village native named Berber. Berber expresses his curiosity as to why Mike is on the mine, and suggests that he should just get off of it. Mike finds this advice aggravating, and believes that Berber is mocking his situation.
Berber then reveals that he has a wooden leg from when he last stepped on a land mine. In order to continue with his life, though, he had no choice but to take his foot off. Berber states he has no regrets doing so, because he got to live the rest of his life, for which he is grateful. Berber’s daughter, on the other hand, lost her life to a mine, and so Berber considers Mike to be “’a lucky man.”
The message at the center of Mine is a poignant one, as that of films like The Matrix (to a certain extent). We generally feel trapped and unable to move when life gives us problems, but deep inside, we are capable of doing anything. It is not so much that Mike cannot step off the mine, but that doing so will have bad consequences. Unfortunately, most of the decisions we make have consequences, but are sometimes necessary to better our lives. As Berber notes, it is better to live life with one leg than to die alone in the desert.
As mentioned before, Mike has to engage in self-reflection, and being motionless on top of an explosive gives him no other option but to confront his past. We get to see portions of his childhood, as well as his current life and what brought him to fight in war. It is an emotional scene to watch, and Armie Hammer’s raw performance makes it that much better. For a debut film, writer/directors Fabio Guaglione and Fabio Resinaro show promise for future careers, as they manage to keep the films story suspenseful and emotional for 90 minutes. The cinematography is also well done, especially when Mike and Tommy first enter the minefield. While it is clear that they will hit a mine, the camera capturing their feet moving and kicking up sand, manages to create suspense.
As for what eventually happens to Mike, I cannot say; you will have to find out for yourself. What I will say, however, is that the emotional journey that he goes through is spectacular. The only real flaw in this film is that the sound design is a bit imbalanced in the first 30 minutes, although it does improve. Even if you retcon that this is a war film and that the sound is meant to be disorientating, it just seems out of place and unfinished. Other than that, the film is well-acted, well shot, and has a moving (ahem) message that I think that it will resonate with many people.
Mine will be released in theaters and on demand on April 7th.